Bard, Google’s conversational bot unveiled as a competition to Microsoft’s headline-making darling, ChatGPT, has received a harsh reception.
The company promoted Bard as a “launchpad for curiosity” and a search tool to “help simplify complex topics” in the unfortunate ad on Google’s Twitter feed this week. A GIF accompanying the video asks Bard, “What new discoveries from the James Webb Space Telescope can I teach my 9-year-old about?” The chatbot responds with bullet points, including the assertion that the telescope captured the first images of “exoplanets,” or planets outside our solar system. “These discoveries can spark a child’s interest in the infinite wonders of the universe,” adds Bard.
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However, the James Webb Space Telescope did not discover any exoplanets. NASA says the European Southern Observatory’s large telescope took the first images of those unusual celestial bodies in 2004.
Social media users quickly pointed out that the company could have checked the exoplanet claim by Googling it. The ad aired just hours before Google’s top executives promoted Bard as the company’s future during a launch event in Paris.
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By Wednesday, Alphabet shares had fallen as much as 9% during trading hours but had recovered by the day’s end. Meanwhile, Microsoft, Google’s competitor, saw its stock rise by 3%. Microsoft announced this week that ChatGPT would be integrated into products such as its Bing search engine. The company has made a $10 billion investment into OpenAI, the start-up that created ChatGPT.
A day after Google announced Bard, Microsoft also announced new versions of their Bing search engine and Edge browser, which could be interpreted as the company taking the AI-powered search battle to Google.
Analysts have suggested Google rushed its announcement under pressure from Microsoft, but Raghavan denied the claim. “This has been a multiyear journey,” he said, adding that no single event had “dramatically changed the course” of Google’s plans.